His confidence, his fears, his views on things old and the new, his work and his family – Ajay Devgn shares all in conversation with Shubarna Mukerji Shu.
This dreamy eyes might give you an impression of insouciance but they miss nothing. His work has been praised on almost every one of his silver-screen outings but that doesn’t make him fanatic about himself or his stardom. Girls swoon at his rugged dark looks and yet, here’s an actor who doesn’t run to check his hair and make-up every five minutes of his waking hours. Talking to Ajay Devgn, who has been in the industry for 20-odd years, is stimulating. For here’s one of the most secure actors of filmdom who speaks without frills and breathes fine without a mirror anywhere in the vicinity!
Agreed, you are beyond hits-n-flops – HIMMATWALA was seen more as Sajid Khan’s failure, than yours. But the unpredictability of this business stays, keeping you on your toes. Despite the years, doesn’t it worry you?
After so many years in the industry, one flop doesn’t get you worked up, not as a person and it certainly doesn’t affect your stardom. That’s not just about me; it is about everyone who has put decades in this field. Even if you want to change people’s perception of you overnight or over a Friday night, it won’t happen. Unless of course there are strings of bad films happening one after the other. But no one is that stupid.
But at the end of the day it is a competitive line of work. You might be above the inconsistency of the profession but the need or want to do better than the other doesn’t die!
I know you guys scoff when you hear actors say there is room for all, but that is actually a fact. You make a good film, that’s all that matters. How much money it made in comparison to someone else’s shouldn’t be your concern. For me, I know I’ve got to do better than my last. That’s important for me because that’s the only indication that I am growing. While I am growing there is always hope, once I stop, someone else is bound to surpass me!
It is like this, even today people come upto me and tell me that no one could have played my role better than I did in say a COMPANY or HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, but the fact is when I see myself in these films, I cringe. I am embarrassed by how I have acted in some of the scenes, knowing well that today I would have done a much better job. That’s my growth as an actor. I believe the day I stop feeling embarrassed about my past work, it would be time to let go.
This is the maya-nagari, it is certainly not that easy to let go…
Today, sitting here with you at this very moment, I am certain that I will know and have what it takes to let go when I realise the time is up. But for all I know, when I am in that spot, I might not be able to do it…Or not even know it’s time! As they say, when you are stuck in the situation, it is tough to get a perspective. So I really cannot say, but I do hope I know…
An actor is always surrounded by his people – his staff and his
well-wishers, who are always telling him how good he is, how he nailed a shot etc… at times like this, forget getting a perspective, how does an actor see himself for who he is?
Those are not friends you are talking about, but chamchas. You know, there was this superstar, who liked to surround himself with these chamchas, a good 20 of them or so, and these guys would go on telling him that his films were doing wonderfully in this sector and that, whereas the fact was that his stardom was slipping away and he didn’t even realise it. It is only after two-three years that he began to see things for what they were – by then the chamchas had taken to green pastures! So you see, it is scary to surround yourself with these kinds. Imagine, you start believing something that is not!
For that, I am really grateful to my friends and family for their honesty. They always tell me things just the way they are. I don’t hold many trials before the release of my films, just a select few, for those whose opinions and judgments I trust and they brutally tell me sometimes that I should not have done the film, if they didn’t like it. Of course, it hurts every time that happens but at least I am prepared for the film to tank even before it hits the theatres.
And I thought you were not the types to take criticism well…
You have to, when it’s for your own good. Most people tell you things that you want to hear. Those who tell you the truth are precious.
But the morale takes a beating and a beaten morale makes one more insecure…
I have never been insecure about my work. I like my work, but I am not in love with it or anything. I certainly don’t get sleepless nights over it. You know na, how I got into films? My father and Kuku Kohli forced me to give it a shot. Even then I agreed on only one condition –that irrespective of the fate of my film, I wouldn’t go around with my portfolio doing the rounds of filmmakers’ offices. Thankfully, it never came to that…
I never did think of becoming an actor.I was always more interested in the technical aspect of filmmaking. I was editing films at the age of 11! As a teen, I have made a few one-and-a-half-hour and two-hour films; complete with choreographed action, songs, everything. I have written the script, dialogues, done the direction and editing, basically everything but facing the camera. So when I did end up facing the camera, I was technically well aware of everything. That was my only prep.
You are not heady about being Ajay Devgn! You don’t rush to the mirror every time, so you are certainly not insecure about your looks. You don’t get into a frenzy if your film does not do well, so you certainly don’t seem insecure about your success… just what does make you unsettled?
People I love! It is not what they do that makes me insecure, I just feel very insecure about them. Like I am a father of a growing girl, she likes to go out and I cannot stop her but I get so worried every time she is out. Of course, when she returns I act all cool as if I hadn’t panicked in the least!